24 May 2021
Officers need to have the right protection at protests and their safety should be a priority, according to Police Federation.
The issue was highlighted after a PC sustained a significant slash wound to his face after being attacked by protestors at Old Trafford football ground in Manchester earlier this month.
The officer now has life-changing injuries and was lucky not to have lost the sight in his eye as a result of the attack.
Greater Manchester Police Federation has called for officers to be appropriately equipped – including with helmets and shields – when policing protests.
Cumbria Police Federation Chairman Paul Williams agreed, saying that recent protests had attracted violent elements.
He said: “It's disturbing to see protests becoming a hub for violence and targeted attacks on police officers. The true reason for protest is being curtailed by violent groups who only attend for one reason.
“Seeing the levels of injuries that officers have been subjected to when policing protests is worrying – officer safety should be a priority.”
Paul added that it was a “fine balance” and that the public perception of police should also be considered.
He said: “Officers need to be afforded the right protection for the situation and that can be a fine balance depending on the extent of the protest, and the intelligence relating to the groups involved and the likely disorder.
“It can be very difficult when managing public perception around protests, as there has to be a relationship between the public and the police to facilitate protest, and dress codes of officers can influence reaction.
“However, contingencies should be in place to protect officers and get the right staff with the right equipment and the right level of training to react to adverse violence quickly.”